Quitting gets a bad rap. If we quit, it’s seen as giving up, not persevering, or just an unwillingness to work hard. It’s viewed as a lack of commitment to whatever it is we’re walking away from.
But there are times when continuing along the same path no longer makes sense. It becomes counterproductive and it can prevent us from moving in a new direction. Keep us from seeing what else is out there. In other words, it can shield us from new experiences that contribute to our personal growth.
I can think of many examples in my life when I walked away from something that no longer served a purpose. Even if I didn’t view it exactly that way at the time. I’m sure most of you can find your own examples.
When I was in my teens and early twenties I began training at a martial arts studio. I eventually advanced to the rank of black belt and started teaching other students. At some point though I stopped finding enjoyment in teaching and training. It just didn’t mean as much to me anymore. So I quit.
Shortly after I quit, I started running. I had no specific plans or goals when I started that journey. In fact I didn’t see it as a journey at all. It was just exercise. One foot in front of the other, heart beating, body sweating. It felt good.
But over time I started getting faster, going farther. I met other runners. And eventually I knew I had found a new passion.
This continued for about 15 years, over thousands of miles and too many pairs of running shoes to count. I ran 5Ks all the way to marathons. And more importantly, I loved it.
Then…I quit. I still ran but gone were the days of the rigid training in snow, sleet, and heat. The getting up before sunrise to get the miles in before work. It simply wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I wanted a more flexible life where I could incorporate other training and activity into my life. And enjoy it.
There are so many other examples, from quitting the MBA program I enrolled in to quitting jobs that were no longer challenging. Even today, I don’t regret any of those decisions because they all led to something more beneficial and satisfying.
Doing things just because we’ve always done them isn’t a good enough reason. There needs to be some enjoyment. Some purpose that makes it worth the time, effort and sacrifice.
If we start to dread the process of whatever it is we’re doing, no matter how successful or satisfied we’ve been in the past, maybe it’s time to quit. View the decision not as giving up but as moving forward. View it as progress.